U.S. Sports Betting Statistics April 2024: Legalization, growth & addiction rising

Apr 12, 2024

The legalization of sports gambling continues to sweep across the country, as North Carolina recently became the latest state to join the movement. As of April, there are 38 states, plus Washington D.C., that allow some form of sports betting. That number is expected to rise in the coming years, but as we’ve seen from recent headlines, sports betting also has an ugly side that is starting to show its face.

There have been several sports betting scandals in sports lately, but arguably the largest is MLB superstar Shohei Ohtani and his longtime interpreter being at the center of a story that involves at least $4.5 million in payments made to an illegal California bookmaker. Other sports gambling scandals have been uncovered in the NBA, NFL, and college sports in the last few months.

Over three-quarters of states in the U.S. have legalized either in-person or online sports betting, and that led to Americans wagering over $100 billion on sports in 2023. However, the dark side of sports betting is that as more states legalize it, the more people have access to it and can potentially become addicted. Sports gambling addiction rates are on the rise across America, and it’s on a dangerous path to becoming an epidemic.

Sports betting continues to grow in popularity 

New states legalized, more coming?

In 2018, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act was overturned by the Supreme Court, which gave individual states the power to legalize sports gambling. Six years later, 38 states have legalized in-person or online sports betting. North Carolina was the latest state to unveil legalized online sports gambling to its residents on March 11, and the initial numbers were staggering. 

In the first 12 hours that online sports betting was legal in the Tar Heel state, an incredible $23.9 million was wagered (per NC News Line). Sportsbooks like FanDuel, DraftKings, BetMGM, and Caesars were all options for North Carolina residents, and the first week had just as strong of  numbers as the first 12 hours. Over $198 million was wagered on sports in the first week of legalized online sports gambling. 

Florida was another state that legalized online sports gambling recently, but there are a few caveats. The only traditional online sportsbook available for residents is Hard Rock Bet, so there are not as many options as in other states. Looking into the future of 2024 and 2025, a few states that could legalize sports betting include Alabama, Georgia, Minnesota, and Missouri (per Action Network). However, each state still has to create a bill and get it passed, which for some is a much more complicated process than it appears.

Overall handle growing steadily

Americans wagered a record amount of money on sports in 2023. With the growing number of states legalizing in-person and online sports gambling, more Americans have access to sports betting than ever. That led to $119.84 billion wagered on sports in 2023. According to the American Gaming Association, that staggering amount was a 27.5% increase from 2022. Unsurprisingly, the Super Bowl brought in a large chunk of that money. It was estimated that $23.1 billion was gambled on the big game between the Chiefs and 49ers (SP Global).

Looking state by state, the Northeast dominated the list. New York and New Jersey had the highest sports betting handles in 2023 with over $30 billion combined (The Lines). Due to the dense population and plethora of sports teams in those two states, it’s not surprising to see New York and New Jersey at the top of the list. Plenty of other states across the country saw an increase in their sports betting handle in 2023 as well.

Addiction rates also rising across the country

Sports gambling addiction has quickly become a serious problem in America. Legalized sports betting has been around since PASPA was overturned in 2018, but the resources to help combat the addiction have been limited. In the three years following the Supreme Court’s action in 2018, the risk of sports betting addiction rate grew by 30% (NCPG).

In a study done by the National Council of Problem Gambling, it was found that 16% of Americans met clinical criteria for gambling disorder. Plus, an additional 13% showed warning signs of sports betting problems (NCPG, 2). Keith Whyte, the executive director for the NCPG, was clear about his opinion on the growing access to online sportsbooks, “We have every reason to believe the growth of online sports betting is a major contributing factor to the increase in gambling problems” (NBC News).

Whyte went on to say, “We believe, nationwide, the rate and severity of gambling problems have increased across the United States since 2018.” Sports gambling addiction is not just one state’s problem - it has become a nationwide crisis. The issue with that is since sports gambling is legalized on a state level and not federal, the national research into the rise of sports gambling addiction is limited. 

Gambling addictions are only expected to increase across the country in the coming years, and organizations like the National Council of Problem Gambling worry that the states may not be adequately prepared for it.

Help and resources for Gambling Addiction 

Fortunately, there are resources available for those struggling with gambling addiction. It’s an addiction that is hard to fight alone, so consider Birches Health as a potential ally. Birches Health offers online care that is 100% confidential from a team of specially trained professionals. With tailored intake and ongoing care options, Birches is a resource that can help you overcome addiction from the comfort of your home.

If you or someone you know may benefit from learning more about Birches Health, please call (833) 483-3838 or email hello@bircheshealth.com to speak with a care specialist today. 

Sources:

North Carolina gets its first glimpse at the money changing hands with legalized sports gambling • NC Newsline

Where Is Online Sports Betting Legal? Projections for All 50 States - March 2024

American Gaming Association: Legal sports betting hits record revenue in 2023 | S&P Global Market Intelligence

Sports Betting Per Capita: Ranking The Top-10 States in America

NCPG Statement on the Betting on Our Future Act - National Council on Problem Gambling

A Review of Sports Wagering & Gambling Addiction Studies Executive Summary

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